For the last eight months, the family of slain anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar had been asking the Pune police what happened in the first one hour after the murder. But they received no reply from the police, which consistently remained evasive.
Two days ago, said members of the family, the police verbally told them that Dabholkar’s body was moved from the crime scene within 20 minutes of the attack — a version they say is “shockingly different” from the accounts of several witnesses who have told them that the body had remained at the spot (on Omkareshwar Bridge) for more than 50 minutes.
The family has now demanded a thorough inquiry into this and many others discrepancy in what the police have told the family and what was observed by others after the murder.
The 68-year-old rationalist and founder of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti was shot dead by two unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants at Omkareshwar Bridge around 7.15 am on August 20, 2013, when he was out on a walk.
On January 20, exactly five months after the murder, the police arrested two alleged arms dealers Manish Nagori (24) and Vikas Khandelwal (22) for their “involvement” in the murder.
Before their arrest in the Dabholkar case, the duo were first caught by the Thane police on August 20, the day Dabholkar was murdered in Pune, and later by the ATS in an Arms Act case.
Dabholkar’s son Hameed told Newsline on Sunday: “We had been asking the police to tell us what happened in the first one hour. Two days ago, the Pune police told us that his body was moved from the spot within 20 minutes. This is very different from we have been told by a lot of people who were there. The body had not been moved for at least 50 minutes. There was no way the body was moved from there in just 20 minutes. It is really surprising. We have asked the police authorities to thoroughly probe this discrepancy. We feel the findings may lead to some new facts.”
Hameed added: “The police also told us that nakabandi was done at the exit points of the city after the murder. But we came to Pune from outside that day and did not see any deployment at any exit point.”
The family has also sought in-camera hearing of the case under court supervision. “We believe that reports of the proceedings may affect the probe and have requested the High Court that the hearing be held in-camera. The next hearing is on Wednesday.”
When Nagori and Khandelwal were produced before the court on January 21, they alleged that the ATS chief had offered them Rs 25 lakh for a confession. The duo had also alleged that their narco and lie detector tests were performed while they were in the custody of the police earlier. Later, they took a U-turn and told the court that their allegation against the ATS chief was an “emotional outburst”.